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Review of Viking Sky’s ‘Barcelona to the Baltic and Beyond’ April 2017

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Stockholm.......make sure you make time to see the Changing of the Guard......lots of pomp and circumstance......a band playing on horseback. It was more impressive than Buckingham Palace.

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We screwed up on that big time. Went to the Vasa (our last name) and spent way too long there (5 hours). Our friend loves museums!! The next day we did a too long canal cruise (over 2 hours) that backtracked and covered the same areas twice. In hindsight I would have loved to do the changing of the guard..I love that stuff! ...but I hadn't written it down and suggested it..my fault! They did it the next day. Hindsight...

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stretchcruz, Vasa is our number one. After that, we will be happy with whatever we can cram into 3 1/2 days, LOL. Well not really. I want to see so much and will definitely be disappointed if we don't get it all worked in. We want Gamla Stan, Vasa, Skansen, Sigtuna and everything within the locations. I don't want to be rushing to get it all in but knowing me, I will and then not do it justice. By this time next week, hopefully I will have accomplished it all.

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We loved the Vasa. My husband, especially, loved showing everyone his name. There is an amusement park close to the Vasa that we spent some time at. One of our friends is on the local fair commission and it was pretty interesting and a nice little walk. We even played skeeball.

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We are staying at the Radisson Blu Waterfront. I want to wear a name tag with my maiden name when I board the ship. It's Hagen. Wonder if I am a long lost relative of the CEO, lol. Thanks for the tidbit about the amusement park. I haven't read about it. I will keep my eyes out for it.

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On Sunday the changing of the guard is 1:15. We arrived about 30 minutes early and had a perfect viewing spot. The hop on hop off canal boat does a nice job getting you around especially if it is a lovely day but it is enclosed and even has a head (bathroom.) If you miss the English Vasa tour there is audio tour to listen to on your smart phone (bring earphones or take them fromthe canal boat).

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I must admit that I agree with JimmyC that itinerary is very important and the Homelands hits all the buttons for me

 

Since there are few sea days, I'm not too concerned about a quiet day. Food however is a different matter. I DO have expectations around that. I would be very disappointed if meals were not a highlight. I expect (based on everything I've read so far) that it will not be a Carnival experience

 

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Most of our cruises prior to our Viking Ocean cruise were with Carnival. Our Viking cruise was so far above any Carnival cruise we couldn’t even see them in the distance

 

We thought everything was really fabulous - food, service, the ship. It was a truly great experience. We had one excursion - an optional one - that was less than spectacular, and that was mainly due to a guide (who seemed like a very nice person) who didn’t have a great knowledge of English. His accent was heavy, he didn’t use the QuietVox and if he couldn’t think of the English word, he would lapse into French for a bit.

 

We did the West Indies Explorer and I’m guessing that our cruise was different from the Viking Ocean cruises in Europe. The Caribbean doesn’t lend itself to walking tours, so we did mostly the optional ones - which were all really fabulous with that one exception.

 

I don’t know, maybe we are easy to please, but we loved every minute and can’t wait for our next Viking adventure.

 

We aren’t loyalists by any means. We are booked on Azamara for an unusual itinerary that fit what we were looking for in the spring next year (a closed loop out of NYC - not on a mega ship). We are looking into trying Regent or Royal Clipper (for something really different), but I suspect Viking will be our “go to” line from here out. We have 2 additional cruises booked - 1 Ocean and 1 River m

 

 

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I’m not going to quote Off Shore’s entire long post, but I did want to say that I deeply resent being dumped in with someone’s narrow view of what ALL Americans want.

 

We are Americans and have always been Americans. We never watch ESPN. And HGTV? Seriously? On vacation? That’s something we watch when there’s nothing else on

 

I don’t look for Zumba, nor aerobic dance on a cruise, nor do I find British accented experts “impressive” - pleasant to listen to, but certainly not impressive. I mean after all, all one has to do to acquire one is to be born in England or live there for some time

 

We found the majority of the meals we ate on both of our Viking cruises to be excellent to fabulous. And my husband is a fussy eater. We even loved our Chefs Table experience.

 

My only complaint about Manfredi’s was that we agreed to sit with others to get the time we wanted and they put 4 people at a too a small table. The food, the service, and the company were all great. We really enjoyed the dinner conversation with our companions. We did a few things with them afterward.

 

I don’t know what Off Shore is using to post, but I found having no spaces between so many words extremely annoying. Did you not read your post over before you hit the “post” button?

 

 

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Just noticed this thread (a bit late to the game here). We shared 2 of the 3 weeks on the same cruise as the original poster, and it’s striking how different our experiences were, especially regarding the food. (We can’t comment on the TV since we didn’t watch it except for the lectures and port talks.)

 

We were pleasantly surprised by the food overall. The biggest surprise to us was the World Cafe, which probably became our favorite dining venue. Interesting dishes that changed daily. I think my favorite was a highly spiced Indian lamb dish. We didn’t find any shortage of salads or fresh fruit there. We ended up eating at the main restaurant only a few times. Perhaps that accounts for some of the differences in our experiences.

 

Also unlike the OP, we disliked the included wines most of the time. The exceptions were at the Chef’s Table, where we thought they did a great job pairing wines.

 

Oh, I do agree about the waffles at Mamsen’s. They were superb.

 

As for the sea days, I found them a welcome break from all the activity in ports. The last thing I wanted was to attend a bunch of organized activities, so I didn’t miss them. But they did have a bunch on offer, I thought, for those that wanted to partake.

 

Just goes to show you how different people’s perceptions can be, even on the same cruise.

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I’m not going to quote Off Shore’s entire long post, but I did want to say that I deeply resent being dumped in with someone’s narrow view of what ALL Americans want.

 

We are Americans and have always been Americans. We never watch ESPN. And HGTV? Seriously? On vacation? That’s something we watch when there’s nothing else on

 

I don’t look for Zumba, nor aerobic dance on a cruise, nor do I find British accented experts “impressive” - pleasant to listen to, but certainly not impressive. I mean after all, all one has to do to acquire one is to be born in England or live there for some time

 

We found the majority of the meals we ate on both of our Viking cruises to be excellent to fabulous. And my husband is a fussy eater. We even loved our Chefs Table experience.

 

My only complaint about Manfredi’s was that we agreed to sit with others to get the time we wanted and they put 4 people at a too a small table. The food, the service, and the company were all great. We really enjoyed the dinner conversation with our companions. We did a few things with them afterward.

 

I don’t know what Off Shore is using to post, but I found having no spaces between so many words extremely annoying. Did you not read your post over before you hit the “post” button?

 

 

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Since we traveled with Off Shore - I'll take the liberty of making some comments - I am sure that Off Shore will also contribute something meaningful.

 

You must have very thin skin if you believe you were being dumped into what Americans want. I have traveled and lived all over the world - there are many Asians, Europeans, Africans, etc. that love ESPN as well as the other channels that Off Shore commented on. So you are offended because someone wants to turn on ESPN to perhaps get sports results - because you are on vacation and wouldn't dare do that. Food: I totally agree with Off Shore - it wasn't bad (for the most part) but definitely not higher than 3*/4* restaurants located all over the world. The wines were pretty good - not $50 a bottle but for the most part they livened up the meal.

 

 

You better check your computer - it probably needs a checkup - there was absolutely nothing wrong with Off Shore's description of his cruise. I personally think he was right-on with what he stated. Oh, by the way, Off Shore is a retired professor with a doctorate in history. I think he has sufficient credentials to make the comments that he did. However, in the end one might question why we are all taking another Viking cruise: we love the itinerary we are taking and the food has got to be better (here's hoping Viking has learned something in the last 1 1/2 years).

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It is fascinating that someone has so much time on their hands that they can dredge up a review that was written over a year ago. I am truly sorry that my typing does not satisfy the high standards of an emoji user. I stand by every comment that I made. Perhaps the poster should try Zumba, aerobic dancing, or Trivial Pursuit. In fact I strongly recommend that they peruse the excellent selection of books in the library; I'm sure they will find something enlightening. They also have a fine selection of dictionaries.

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Oops. I should’ve checked the OP’s date more closely. 2017, not 2018. We weren’t on the same cruise after all. Sorry about that.

 

On the bright side, it appears that Viking’s cuisine has improved over the past year.

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It is always dangerous commenting about the cuisine but I will stick my foot in the fire. I have been on 92 cruises including all upscale lines (Regent, Seabourn, Silversea, Crystal, Royal Viking, Oceania, etc.) In all those years my most exceptional dining experiences were on the QE2 (Original Grill Room and then Queen's Grill) and Oceania. Also, I lived in Manhattan for 40 years and had access to some fantastic meals. When at sea I always scan the menu for interesting and unusual dishes that I could never prepare at home. Thus, I would never order a steak if there was something more intriguing on the menu.

On Viking Ocean I found the food to be quite nice but never would I categorize it as haute cuisine and I don't think that is the goal of the kitchen. They prepare very pleasant meals using quality ingrediants that do not venture very far from standard fare. The slight exception is World Cafe where the sushi and sashimi were wonderful and one night they had very delicious soft shell crabs. So I think in general the three to four star rating is very appropriate. However, our one time in Manfredi's was a real disappointment. I decided to order something very common to see what they would do with lasagne. It was just a pile of overcooked pasta with some dry, crumbled ground meat and perhaps a teaspoon of bechamel sauce. I was quite shocked after all the great reviews. Perhaps Viking Ocean is still a work in progress and I will make another assessment during my next cruise in October. Otherwise, the service and ship design are very special and I think the ambience is great.

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Amusea,

 

I appreciate your perspective on the food on Viking, especially given the context you provided. Our exposure to fine dining is much more limited, and we enjoyed the food onboard almost without exception. However, Manfredi's did not live up to our expectations either.

 

You did not mention the Chef's Table. That was a new experience for us, and one that we greatly enjoyed. The Sweet and Salty menu there was perhaps our favorite meal on the Star. Did you eat there during your cruise?

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Amusea,

 

I appreciate your perspective on the food on Viking, especially given the context you provided. Our exposure to fine dining is much more limited, and we enjoyed the food onboard almost without exception. However, Manfredi's did not live up to our expectations either.

 

You did not mention the Chef's Table. That was a new experience for us, and one that we greatly enjoyed. The Sweet and Salty menu there was perhaps our favorite meal on the Star. Did you eat there during your cruise?

 

We did not have the opportunity to try the Chef's Table because we were waiting for the French night. It turned out that only one night on the 14 day cruise had the French night and it was the last night of the cruise. By the time we discovered when it would be it was sold out. We tried asking at the entrance to the room on the designated night but no tables were available. So we look forward to that experience in four months and we will be aware of the Sweet and Salty menu also.

I am not surprised that you enjoyed your dining experience on Viking since food is prepared well and the quality is high. However, I now know not to expect exotic sauces or many unusual dishes. We did find one red wine and one white wine that we found enjoyable at lunch and dinner and we requested those wines during the cruise. At one point they seemed to have exhausted their supply of the red but after a long search they found more. This attitude of trying to please passengers helps make Viking an outstanding line.

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